From My Stoep by Richard Smart


I sit on the stoep’s wooden park bench

With a glass of amber Scotch in my left hand

Smokey, my beloved cat, purrs contentedly on my lap.


I gaze out: my eyes travel beyond the garden’s cotoneaster-hedge

To the smooth outline – only interrupted by the odd besembos – of the koppies yonder.


A replete hanslam bleats habitually from his hok

While I hear the milk-cows lowing urgently for their calves – weaned for the night

An African hoepoe struts importantly across the lawn, curved beak at the ready to retrieve a morsel.


A tired Isuzu bakkie, diff whining from years of wear and tear, passes on the gravel road: an industrious neighbour returning to his sanctuary: his oasis

The dust plume hangs heavy: a sign of a low-pressure system I tell myself.


I feel cold drops of condensate collecting on my left index finger – there must be moisture in the (unforgiving) Karoo’s air

The telephone suddenly rings in the passage; I choose to ignore it

The peace surrounding me punctuated by the rhythmical tick-tick of the Rainbird sprinkler irrigating the lawn keeps me magnetised, almost trapped, to my seat.


I love words like moer, deurmekaar, maar, sukkel, mooi, braai, bliksem, mos, and kuier– they’ve taken up permanent residence in my vocabulary

The spiritual-like call of the African Fish Eagle perched on a lifeless tree stump in the Big Dam disturbs my network of thoughts, now, about how to survive the dusty drought … Smokey adjusts his posture …

when wise words from my late father come to life:

Jong, there’s never been a drought that hasn’t been broken!” ….

The rainbird bursts into song 🙂

And I take a slow, deep slug of my Johnny Walker on-the-rocks.


Richard Smart, Munich, Germany, 15 Feb 2014.

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